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Leyla McCalla Revives Haiti’s Rebel Radio Station

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Rush Jagoe
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Leyla McCalla (right) reflects on the Haitian diaspora and her family history

Radio Haiti-Inter was the first independent radio station on the Caribbean island. Founded by activist and journalist Jean Dominique, it broke the mold and achieved mass popularity by standing up to government corruption and media suppression in the language of the people, Haitian Creole.

Dominique was assassinated in April 2000, and the station disbanded soon after due to continued threats of violence. The archived recordings from Radio Haiti-Inter are housed at Duke University and are now featured in an artistic revival of the station. Leyla McCalla, formerly of the Grammy-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops, digs into her Haitian-American identity in collaboration with director Kiyoko McCrae, in their exploration of diasporic culture and political resistance.

Host Frank Stasio is joined by McCalla and McCrae to hear samples from the performance and to discuss the process of transforming boxed archival materials into a multimedia revival. Duke Performances’ “Breaking the Thermometer to Hide the Fever” is on stage at The Rubenstein Arts Center in Durham on Thursday, March 5 and Friday, March 6 at 8 p.m.
 

Grant Holub-Moorman coordinates events and North Carolina outreach for WUNC, including a monthly trivia night. He is a founding member of Embodied and a former producer for The State of Things.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.